tv Washington Week With Gwen Ifill PBS December 6, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
gwen: health, wealth and the promise of prosperity, news on week.onts this plus, our tribute to nelson mandela, tonight, on "washington week." the stock market bounces back, the unemployment rate hits a five-year low, the affordable care act may be turning the corner. >> this law is working and will future.o the gwen: is it all too good to be true? >> while the white house wants to claim that healthcare.gov is now working, we know that obamacare is still plagued with problems. gwen: outside washington, detroit is headed into bankruptcy, pensions are disappearing and low wage workers say they're being left out. >> people cannot survive on $8.25 in this country.
gwen: and -- we remember nelson mandela. >> there's mr. mandela, mr. nelson mandela, a free man taking his first steps into a new south africa. gwen: covering the week, jackie calmes of the "new york times," michael fletcher of "the washington post," and david wessel of "the wall street journal." >> award-winning reporting and analysis covering history as it happens. live, from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- we know inw-up, cyber world, threats are always evolving. we were protecting networks, then we were protecting the transfer of data, today, it's evolved to , finance, and
military missions. constantly innovating to advance the front line in the cyber battle wherever it takes us. of performance. northrop grumman. additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by prudential. providedl funding is annenbergndation foundation, corporation for broadcasting and contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from gwenngton, moderator ifill. gwen: good evening, as you know, tonightd is in mourning for nelson mandela, the southan passed away this week. in washington, the week's other been on the economy, good news on the jobs front today, a healthcare website that and theinally working
struggles that continue away capital.nation's starting with the jobs report, are we seeing the long-awaited recovery everyone is talking about or what, david? >> i think the economy is moving in the right direction, moving slowly but in the right direction. we've had two months with over 200,000 jobs added, the unemployment rate is as low as it's been in the last five years month wasring this across the economy -- manufacturing, construction, it's aate and local so good sign but it's important to remember there's still a lot of people out of work. than one third of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or more and hard time getting hired. gwen: that's one piece of today's news. week's newsof this is about the healthcare act. at the white house today, they are linking the good economic with the finally good news about the healthcare act. is there a connection between rebound in the economy and the healthcare act? >> the link is that this law all thetually for
attention to it now is more than three years old, that, you know, jobs growth, you might say, despite the affordable care act, despite the predictions from republicans and its other opponents that this killer, theob consistent description for it, and jay carney opened up his houseng at the white today by suggesting that the eachgrowth consecutively month have coincided with the time period in fact the affordable care act has been on the books. gwen: is that plausible? >> no. the one case they do have is that there are fewer people part-time involuntarily and that was supposed to be something that was going to happen because of the affordable care act. it looks like the shutdown and all that furor didn't really stop the economy. gwen: the word they've been using instead is because the resilient is why it's happened. that's the good news part of it goes so far because
just under the surface, there was a lot of evidence of uncertainty. headed to, which is bankruptcy, and among minimum wage workers who are demanding a pie.r piece of the there are a couple of ways of looking at that. trends ofbined increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a threat to the american dream, our way of life and what we stand for around the globe. there's no doubt that under president obama our country has call a new what i'll normal -- slow economic growth, high unemployment, stagnant wages. gwen: take your pick at what you want to believe but at the root of this is a certain amount of disillusionment which runs deep, michael. >> there are dynamics in the were there before the downturn that continue to evidence themselves and the big problem is how do you divide the economic pie? it goes back to the problems of the late 1970's where the people are getting more of the pie and working people are getting less. it used to be that unlettered people could get a good living
wage in this country and that's changing a lot. the difference between a living wage and minimum wage? >> it's grown bigger. wage is enough money to raise a family on and you think about the key things in our economy that someone has to do to raise a family -- education, healthcare -- these are the most inhat have gone up price meanwhile wages have been flat over the last 12, 13 years, real wages have been flat and insecurity is growing. you mentioned detroit -- time,ns for the first public pensions are on the chopping block in this bankruptcy which have implications for other cities that are stressed fiscally so working people are in a moment here that they haven't time.n in a long gwen: is there a disconnect, david, between what michael is talking about in cities like detroit and at mcdonald's restaurants around the country and what we're seeing in the economically? >> i don't think so. i think the tide is rising, but michael's absolutely right that more and more of the goodies are
going to people at the top. blankfine, the c.e.o. of goldman sachs, did an interview with "fortune magazine" and he good at country is very creating wealth but not very good at distributing it and i pickinge president was up on something and you can see municipalities raising the gapmum wage, that the between winners and loserrers is uncomfortably large. thing theher president was trying to do to close the gap, going back to the healthcare law. to people who were supposed benefit the most greatly from this are the poor. outno one was saying that loud but that was going to be one of the intended benefits. because of the flawed rollout, that changed? >> well, it's too early to say was making wase that, you know, and this is all part of a week in which he has enough about the progress made on the website that he went on the offensive. he's been on the defensive for over two months.
and that as he said it in his week, that the single biggest factor that causes economic insecurity for some people and prevents them from getting on the ladder to the middle class are healthcare know, something happens within their family that just literally drives some people bankrupt and that is what he's trying -- this is perhaps the biggest step he's taken to sort of address the problems he was talking about. gwen: do we know that healthcare going down as a result? >> nobody really knows. it's just -- right now, what we know is that there's enough of a decrease -- the trend is such that you can't just attribute it to the fact that the recession is over. >> slowing. been interesting, you talk about the a.c.a., already, half the states have not expanded medicaid and that leaves the most vulnerable people out of the benefits of this law for now. >> in the states that have expanded medicaid, the poor are
really -- >> as long as the paperwork is done. >> they're the prime beneficiaries. >> right. states where the governors or legislatures have to expand medicaid, they've called it a fiscally prudent decision, that it costs too much money but what we've done in the past is taxpayers hospitals money to that serve a lot of uninsured or i understand dent patients so money from the taxpayers was going to hospitals. longer goes to the hospitals that serve a lot of thatents but was designed it goes to the people who by getting insurance through their health treat problems sooner and could be less costly. about theme ask you minimum wage idea and the detroit bankruptcy. was the federal government's role in this supposed to be? raisedhe president have the minimum wage or could he have stepped in to this process
in a big city like detroit and kept it from going over the brink? the word bailout in washington and see the reaction you would get and that's what it have taken for detroit and they needed a lot of money. -- $18 billion in debt is a lot of money. $9 president proposed a minimum wage. recently the administration's indicated they're in favor of a $10 minimum wage but the $9 one didn't move. there are a lot of people who convinced you raise your income by raising your education your skill level and you'll get a better wage and a lot of people say, look at auto manufacturing. what was inherent about those you would get $27 an cadillac benefit plans. it was the leverage from the unions. gwen: the leverage we're talked about has gone away. pensions andsing
making pensions a guarantee is at the heart of a lot of this means people -- what was considered sacrosanct no in exchange for that you're supposed to sacrifice for the greater good. >> on the pensions, the problem is, for private sector workers, they'd gone through this so it was very hard to convince they should pay taxes in a city like detroit so employees could get generous pensions. so i think it began when it cut the private pensions. i think the interesting thing in detroit is that the bankruptcy even though the constitution says you can't cut pensions, he said you can and that rahm emanuel in chicago is looking at that. >> the mayor of l.a. california, as well. >> san jose. decision.s a huge gwen: let me ask you about this, though. one of the other discussions in about unemployment benefits, extending unemployment benefits, whether it's a tradeoff for the budget or what is a chance
that that's going to happen and economicdoes the good news depending on something like that? >> john boehner said the good economic news means it's not necessary but people on the arer side would say, there four million people out of work six months or more. in of the decline unemployment last month was in people who were unemployed for a isn't itiod of time so cruel to take away unemployment meant tothat weren't be temporary until the economy gets stronger and other people cut the unemployment benefits, you you may discourage people from ever going back to work and they may try to get on disability. going. sure where it's it's not chlor the democrats have the muscle to do it. is, it's aver it sales job underway. that was the key on the affordable care act, to get this but also begin to sell it. they sounded like they would put said, and the president
i'm going to stir it up. where are they? think they have decided the best thing for them to do is to offensive. gwen: what does that mean, being on the offensive? >> they're talking about -- he website's for the problems, they will continue, as stories come up, they'll have to respond, they'll have to be on future, asve in the well. but they're promoting the things are people actually benefiting from, the 85% of us who have employer provided actuallysurance who get benefits as a result, you know, a child who's under 26 who's on your policy, the people who have pre-existing conditions get insurance. but, you know, they really, you they weren't gaining anything by being on the defensive. you saw what it did in the polls so it's like this is his legacy, -- signaturent achievement, he's got to stand it.
and in addition to fixing the website, they're bringing phil shalerro who was president obama's chief congressional lobbyist two years newfled to mexico for a life, he's coming in to be a troubleshooter against problems arise in congress. >> i think it's wishful thinking. i think they're going to continue to be plagued until the system's functioning and it going to behat's quite a while. gwen: in the end we're talking about the gap that exists, whether it's gaps in coverage, in income, gaps in the jobless rate. there actually anything on the table either coming from republicans, democrats, green people -- doesn't matter -- which would speak to closing those gaps? minimum referenced the wage increases we've seen in localities and states around the country. there's talk in congress even bolstering social security atefits because people look
the retirement gaps. pensions have gone away pretty sector.the private what's replaced them? not much. a lot of people are insecure to retirement. people saying we have to do something to bolster social security which is against the tide. i think there's a common understanding that there's something wrong with what we the to think of as opportunity society, that it's harder for people to rise from class. up to the middle i've heard paul ryan talk about about barack obama talk it. gwen: they don't have the same solutions. >> they don't have the same solutions and i'm not sure either one of them has a workable solution. gwen: we have another part of the discussion we want to continue because we don't want you tonight without turning to the passing of one of the most significant leaders of our time. world mandela shaped the he lived in and deeply influenced an american president who says his first political act to protest apartheid.
he was released from given gives me a sense of what when guided can do by hopes and not their fears. like so many, i cannot imagine the example that nelson mandela set and songs i live i will do what i can to from him. >> there's mr. mandela, mr. nelson mandela, a free man first steps into a new south africa. gwen: nelson mandela captured the world's public imagination when he stepped from behind bars in 1990 after 27 years of captivity. a freedom fighter, a political leader, and a symbol of shocking, just change. he was 71 years old by the time he stepped out of jail that day, but he was a vibrant figure, a global force of moral authority. mandela made a big splash when he toured the u.s. in the summer of 1990. we devoted an entire program to
his june visit to washington. here is a part of that week's conversation between moderator paul duke, and steve roberts, then of "u.s. news and world report." >> watching him speak before the joint session, he really does cut a striking figure. he's charismatic, he's got a patrician bearing, he's a compelling speaker, he really is a born leader. >> i was in the chamber and lucky enough to be in the front row and you're quite right, but presence we kind of often associate with a political leader. it's a quieter presence. >> to some extent nelson mandela is a rip van winkle character. went into jail 27 years ago and there's still shreds of almost an outdated rhetoric to what he says. i do think members of congress were reassured today, paul. i talked to several after the speech who were heartened by his economy anda mixed
talking about a free market. had buffered some of his hard edge rhetoric about state central planning and communism. gwen: in 1993, mandela shared the nobel peace prize and in 1994, became south africa's first post-apartheid president. this is for all south an unforgettable occasion. it is the realization of hopes and dreams that we have cherished over decades. gwen: cnn's bernard shaw asked him at the time what legacy he hoped to leave. >> i would like to be remembered not as anybody unique or special but as part of a great team in this country that has struggled for many years, for decades, and
even centuries, to bring about this day. gwen:nelson mandela was 95 years old. jackie, one of the interesting the presidenthing yesterday in the briefing room was the connection he made between his life journey and mandela's. is there a real connection there? >> well, it certainly is in of shaping him. i think it has the virtue of some of hishat earliest -- the president's involvement in politics was around the apartheid movement and if that he's hardly people.t from a lot of when i first started covering anti-apartheid movement was a major force, in covering congress in the mid 1980's, that debate. the president said this summer when he went to sownkt and ended up not being able to see president mandela because he was i don't need a,
photo opportunity but it has to be one of his biggest regrets. he saw him in 2005 when he was a newly elected senator but first president of the united states and first black president of south africa, that would have photo opportunity. gwen: that would have been something. michael, the interesting thing about mandela, during all the been working as reporters and traveling this country, there was a real domestically between americans in general and him. so many, there are parallels between the south and america'seid own history of racial oppression and the rise from that and they've made so the story resonates with people in this country. theas interesting, outpouring. apolloquee at the theater had words up honoring him, people spontaneously showed south african embassy, thetician from the left and
right praised him. hisarzenegger talking about example and existence of god. strikingly different than when he came out of prison. drove this athat the time was the sanctions movement, the idea of punishing releasedica until it mandela. we remembered the music, we remembered the chants, we the protests. did it work and does it still? >> it definitely hurt south africa. they were denied a lot of foreign investment, american putting moneyped there and they were unable to sell to us but the evidence is may have imbittered some of the africana leadership and led develop nuclear weapons because they felt isolated but it had a huge psychological effect. the fact that their sports teams couldn't play in world competition and they were seen pariahs, that came at the
same time that enforcing was becoming increasingly expensive so i think it contributed but it the only cause. gwen: there were a lot of costs memories and quite resonant this week, the death of nelson mandela. thank you all so much. leave you a few minutes early tonight to give you a chance to support your stations which, in turn, support us, but the conversation theinues online on "washington week" webb cast atra streaming live pbs.org/washingtonweek. once you're there, you can find antake on nelson mandela and invitation to join our community of readers at "washington week" by checking out our winter reading list recommendations, great holiday gifts, all of them. up with daily developments seven nights a week on the pbs newshour.
>> corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we went out and asked people question, how old is the oldest person you've known? sticker and had them show us. we've learned a lot of us have known someone who've lived well into their 90's and that's a great thing but even though we're living longer, the one hasn't changed, the official retirement age. the question is, how do you make you have all the money you need to enjoy all of these years? corporate funding for "washington week" is by northrop grumman.
next on "kqed newsroom," low-wage workers barely making ends meet. they protest toñi raisexd9wxjf minimum wage. >> thanksgiving ñidinner, christmas dinner, that's at( fantasy still for me. i can't afford any offá it. >> the movement is picking up steam here in the bay area and across the country. plus, stanford university design students tackle toughñi with an eye on affordability. >> you see the assignment? you're going to build a freátanding structure to you're going to build a bmns@?ñ and nelson mandela, his legacy and the impact on the bay area.q4&->> we must keep the pre